Retired criminal judge to investigate new Stardust evidence

The Government is to appoint a retired criminal judge to investigate claims of new evidence into the 1981 Stardust fire which claimed 48 lives, writes Daniel McConnell.

Retired criminal judge to investigate new Stardust evidence

The Government is to appoint a retired criminal judge to investigate claims of new evidence into the 1981 Stardust fire which claimed 48 lives, writes Daniel McConnell.

Today, following intensive rows between the Independent Alliance and Fine Gael, the Coalition has agreed that it will establish a new State Commission of Inquiry, should the judge recommend it.

The deal means the Government can table a counter motion in the Dail this evening to one tabled by Independent TD Tommy Broughan.

Alliance Minister, Finian McGrath (pictured) , who threatened to resign if he did not get satisfaction on this issue, said he felt it was better to “stay in and fight like hell” in order to deliver justice to the families.

Having said for several days that only an inquiry would suffice, Mr McGrath rejected suggestions that he caved, calling the deal a sensible solution which moves the victims’ campaign on.

Reacting to the deal, Antoinette Keegan who is a survivor of the tragedy but who lost her two sisters that night, gave a cautious welcome to what was announced.

“We are happy with Finian, he has always backed us up, just like Tommy Broughan, he has been our backbone since day one. We have got what we wanted which was a judge, a retired judge. We will look at the terms of reference and we will make sure we will not fall into the same trap as before,” she told the Irish Examiner.

“We wouldn’t have had this today only for Tommy Broughan’s motion. Only his motion went in there today, there would have been no negotiations at all,” she said.

“I had to get my mother out of bed to get her in here to go through what they were going to give us. We put what we wanted on the table. They decided this was what they are going to give us.

“We want, and we now have control over the eminent legal person. We want to be involved. We don’t want the report given into Government and we are left out. We wanted to be treated as equal,” he said.

Asked what they would do if the scoping reports recommends no inquiry take place, Ms Keegan said she is convinced that won’t happen.

“There is new evidence there, there is scope for a new inquiry. There are five lads dead, 29 feet away from where the fire supposed to have started. The judge will be coming back and saying there are reasons to re-open this,” she added.

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